20 Years of Thanksgiving Trends

We're counting back the most popular Thanksgiving trends of the last 20 years. 


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Thanksgiving Through the Years

From the reign of deep-fried turkeys in 1996 to 2013's bruleed pumpkin pie craze, here's proof that the Turkey Day feast is ever-evolving. What will 2016 bring to the table?



2013: Bruleed Pumpkin Pie

Fire up the blowtorches. Three leading food mags — Martha Stewart Living, Bon Appétit and Saveur — offer up pumpkin pies with the crackling torched-sugar tops.

Try This: How to Brulee a Pumpkin Pie

2012: Creamed Kale

Kale: It's not just for salad. Kale mania grips the nation, pushing spinach, mesclun and arugula off the plate. Is there anything this super veggie can't do? We're still waiting to find out.

Get the Recipe: Creamed Kale

2011: Cornbread Stuffing

Southern food is smoking-hot, as reflected in the sudden resurgence of this down-home classic.

Get the Recipe: Neely's Holiday Cornbread Stuffing

2010: Turkeys Glaze Over

Molasses, pomegranate, maple, cider, soy sauce, even malt beer: The foodie press abounds in photogenic glazed birds.

Get the Recipe: Cranberry-Orange Glazed Turkey

2009: Spatchcocked Turkey

What works for chicken works for turkey. Just when you thought there was nothing new in turkey technique, here comes a method that — by cutting out the backbone and pressing the turkey flat — delivers incredibly fast and even cooking.

2008: Hello, Brussels Sprouts!

We discover the amazing versatility of Brussels sprouts: They're great whether shaved or shredded into a slaw, or separated into leaves and quickly sauteed.

Try This: How to Roast Brussels Sprouts

2007: Heritage Turkey

Those lean, flavorful, pricey old-breed birds, with evocative names like Bourbon Red and Narragansett, are all the rage. By 2008 they show up on Iron Chef America.

2006: Dressing Beats the Stuffing Out of the Bird

Reports of the dangers of undercooked stuffing push more and more cooks in the direction of dressing.

Get the Recipe: Country Bread and Sage Dressing

2005: Pork

Your bacon-of-the-month subscription? It comes in handy around Thanksgiving.

Get the Recipe: Maple-Roasted Turkey with Sage, Smoked Bacon, and Cornbread Stuffing

2004: Dry-Brined Turkey

Salt meat heavily and refrigerate, loosely covered, for two or three days prior to cooking; that's dry-brining, a technique popularized by the dearly departed San Francisco Chef Judy Rogers, in her 2002 Zuni Cafe Cookbook. By 2004 her justly famous Zuni chicken is the template for countless Zuni turkeys.

Get the Recipe: Dry Brined Turkey With Classic Herb Butter

2003: Wild Mushroom Stuffing (and Gravy)

Wild mushrooms are widely available, although expensive; the holidays provide the perfect excuse to splurge.

Get the Recipe: Sourdough, Wild Mushroom, and Bacon Dressing

2002: Turducken

Up from Cajun country flies the turducken, a boneless beast composed of a chicken stuffed into a duck stuffed into a turkey. Three birds in one, requiring virtuoso technique on the part of the butcher.

Video: Alpine Steakhouse Turducken

2001: Balsamic-Glazed ...

Balsamic burst into the mainstream in the '90s, and by 2001 it fully infiltrates Thanksgiving, providing sweetness, acidity and an appealing burnish to carrots, onions, sweet potatoes, winter squash, pears and even turkeys.

2000: Savory Bread Pudding

Better than stuffing? Not necessarily. But folks are giving it a shot.

Get the Recipe: Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding

1999: Truffled Mashed Potatoes

There was a time — before we learned it is 100 percent synthetic — when a little truffle oil seemed the height of sophistication. The year? 1999.

1998: Smashed Potatoes

Here's a win for rusticity over the smooth refinement of mashed, likely driven by the rise of trendy Yukon gold and other waxier potatoes, which smash better than they mash. In the early '00s, Rachael Ray will usher smashed potatoes into the mainstream on her smash hit, 30 Minute Meals.

Get the Recipe: Cheesy Smashed Potatoes

1997: Brined Turkey

Cooks Illustrated magazine shakes the pompoms for giving turkey a salty soak.

Get the Recipe: Roasted Thanksgiving Turkey

1996: Deep-Fried Turkey

Martha Stewart Living magazine gets the (butter)ball rolling on this one, and it's pushed along by Alton and other Food Network stars.

Get the Recipe: Deep-Fried Turkey

1995: High-Heat Roast Turkey

Barbara Kafka's influential cookbook Roasting: A Simple Art has home cooks all over the country revving their ovens all the way to 500 degrees for the holiday bird — setting off smoke alarms nationwide.

1995: Suddenly, Tofurky

Tofurky, a vegan rendition of a roast turkey, stuffing included, is hatched by an Oregon company.  

1994: Cranberry Salsa

Regional American cooking traditions, particularly Southwestern, are trending hot; it turns out cranberries have a striking affinity for chiles.

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